By Christopher R. Bartocci
Anyone in the industry or the Black Rifle community knows that there are more than 100 manufacturers of black rifles. Many of those are just clones of the same rifle but some take a little different road to develop the rifle that they produce. With the extreme diversity of the weapon system, some companies specialize in military, law enforcement, piston operated rifles and competition rifles. At SHOT Show 2012, a new rifle appeared on the market. Not from a rifle manufacturing company but one who began their journey in the industry by partnering with Diemaco/Colt Canada to produce an OEM polymer translucent magazine in the early 2000s. That company is Lancer Systems and their new rifle was going to have some departures from current designs.
The lower receiver is manufactured by Lancer Systems and is manufactured from a 7075 T6 forging. The rifle has an ambidextrous bolt catch and an oversized magazine release button. The pistol grip chosen was the Ergo Grip for a better feel and less prone to slip in adverse conditions. The most interesting feature is their patented removable magazine wells. The magazine wells attach via a captive takedown pin similar to that located on the rifle. It attaches through a hole in the front bottom of the trigger guard. The first magazine well is called the Competition mag well. This one has a large bevel, which will allow quick insertion of magazines. This would be very bulky for a combat rifle but perfect for the competitor. The next is the Tactical mag well. This is more of an in-between a Standard mag well and a Competition mag well. The third is the standard mag well, which mimics the standard receiver. The mag wells can be changed out in seconds.
There are two stocks offered by Lancer. With the exception of the L15 Sporter, the other three models come standard with the EFX-A2 fixed stock manufactured by MAGS, LLC. This is a fixed polymer stock with a “Club Foot” design. It offers quick detach mounts for sling swivels on both sides and two different slots for running a sling through. The L15 Sporter model uses a telescopic Ergo F93 Pro Stock. This one has 8 positions, perhaps the most positions of any stock out there. The stock has a rubber buttpad and is very easy to manipulate.
Depending on the model rifle, there are two different trigger groups offered. The Sporter model uses a standard mil-spec trigger. The test and evaluation rifle broke at 7.25 pounds. That falls in the mil-spec of 5.5 to 8.5 pounds. The second trigger is manufactured by CMC Trigger out of Fort Worth, Texas. This is the model that has a 3.5 pound trigger pull and is a one piece drop-in unit.
The lower receiver will fit any mil-spec upper receiver and can be purchased separately as well as in a full rifle.
The upper receiver is a standard mil-spec flat top Mil-Std 1913 rail model with forward assist, fired cartridge case deflector and ejection port dust cover. The rifle is equipped with the Lancer manufactured free floating lightweight carbon fiber handguard. This handguard has many grooves in it that will allow installation of removable rail panel segments in 2 and 4 inch lengths. The handguard comes with a rail on the top front for installation of a detachable front sight assembly on the Sporter model. The other three models do not come with any rails as they are designed for use with optics.
Depending on the model, a different barrel is used. On the L15 Sporter, a 16-inch lightweight hammer forged barrel manufactured by FN is used. It is chrome lined with a 1-in-7 inch twist. The barrel is equipped with a standard A2-style compensator. The L15 Competition utilizes a White Oak barrel and employs a Wheaton Arms SS Compensator and the Super Competition uses a Krieger barrel and also utilizes a Wheaton Arms SS Compensator. The L15 Sharp Shooter uses a Krieger 20-inch heavy profile barrel. This barrel is not threaded.
The L15 Sporter
This model is a basic tactical rifle with a 16-inch, 1/7 twist barrel and an A2 compensator utilizing the Ergo F93 Pro Stock. The gas system is direct gas impingement with a mid-length gas tube. It comes with a Lancer carbon fiber free floating handguard and 2-inch detachable rail panel. This 7.2 pound carbine uses a standard mil-spec trigger group.
The L15 Competition
This model is a basic competition rifle with a White Oak SS 18-inch, 1/8 twist barrel and a Wheaton Arms SS Compensator. An extra long Lancer carbon fiber free floating handguard is used on this model and uses the EFX-A2 fixed stock. The rifle employs a full length rifle gas system. The provided magazine well is the competition mag well for speed reloading. The trigger provided is the CMC Trigger 3.5 pound trigger. The rifle is designed for speed, and balance weighing in at 7.7 pounds.
The L15 Super Competition
This is an upgraded version of the L15 Competition designed for national level 3 gun competitions. It has a custom profiled Krieger 17-inch mid-weight profile barrel with a 1/7.7 inch twist and a rifle length gas system. The rifle uses the Wheaton Arms SS Compensator. This rifle is chambered for the .223 Wylde cartridge used by competitors. This cartridge is proprietary and exploits the accuracy advantages of the .223 Rem chambering without pressure problems or compromising the functional reliability of semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15 family when using 5.56x45mm military ammunition. It has the external dimensions of the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge and the 0.2240 inch freebore diameter as found in the civilian SAAMI .223 Rem cartridge. Both types of ammunition may be fired in this chambering. The 1/7.7 inch twist prefers heavier bullets, and sub MOA accuracy can be achieved with handloads using 75 grain projectiles. It utilizes the EFX-A2 fixed stock. The rifle weighs in at 7.8 pounds.
The L15 Sharp Shooter
This rifle is designed specifically for long range accuracy. It has a 20-inch heavy profile Kreiger barrel with a 1/7.7 inch twist and also has the .223 Wylde chamber. There is no threading or muzzle device. An extra long Lancer carbon fiber handguard is used. This rifle is provided with the tactical mag well and utilizes the EFX-A2 fixed stock. The trigger provided is the CMC Trigger 3.5 pound trigger. The rifle weighs in at 8.9 pounds.
The rifle provided for test and evaluation was the L15 Sporter model. Added to the rifle was an AimPoint Comp 4 red dot optic for the testing was at 25 to 50 yards. The magazines used were the Lancer AWM 45-, 30- and 20-round magazines. Just to check for compatibility with the rifle, Pmag, C-Products Defense, H&K high reliability and standard GI mags were also used The ammunition chosen for function firing was Federal XM193 and for accuracy Blackhills Mk262 Mod 1 ammo (77gr OTM). More than 240 rounds were fired with no malfunctions. The rifle was light and easy to maneuver with. The Ergo stock was quite nice for adjusting to this author’s long arms. The combination of the ambidextrous bolt catch and the tactical mag well, reloads were fast and easy. Accuracy was conducted off hand, not off a bench. Groups at 25 and 50 yards consistently were within 2 inches. This is definitely a rifle with new and innovative features and will have its place on the shooting line of competitions all over the country.
The New AWM (Advanced Warfighter Magazines)
This author has been quite active in tracking the progression of the Lancer translucent magazines going back to their joint effort with Diemaco in the early 2000s. As recalled, the magazines were always top notch. They blew away the Thermold magazines the Canadians had been producing for some time. The testing only showed one real weakness and that was if the feed lips were covered with Deet (bug spray) it would break down the polymer and the feed lips would separate and the bullets would come flying out of the magazine. Around this time is when Colt Defense purchased Diemaco and renamed it Colt Canada. Colt Defense decided for whatever reason to drop out of the partnership and the project. Lancer, knowing they had a real product that was durable, reliable and could compete with any magazine out there, decided to take it on their own and develop the magazine. In 2007, Lancer introduced to the industry their L5 translucent magazine. Some of the major changes included a change from green to smoke translucent color. They got away from the solid plastic floor plate for a rubberized one. Through a couple generations they went from the standard green GI follower to a better one. The magazines were an instant success. They would go on to make a 20-, 5- and 10-round magazine as well. They also coupled two mags together producing a 48-round competition magazine.
In 2011, Lancer launched their next generation L5AWM magazine or the L5 Advanced Warfighter Magazine. There were many improvements to this new magazine. To solve the Deet issue they completely re-designed the feed lip portion of the magazine utilizing a much larger steel feed lip that is mechanically attached to the polymer body. The new feed lip design provides sufficient support to the top of the magazine to allow the L5AWM’s body to be molded from non-translucent polymers and they also use a new stainless steel spring. The magazine has a constant curve design to improve feeding as well as a more aggressive texture making them easier to use in adverse conditions. The floor plate is now removable by sliding off and is made of a more impact resistant polymer. The geometry of the magazine has been changed so it can be used in non-standard magazine wells such as the H&K 416, SA80 and Beretta ARX-160 rifle as well as standard M16-series rifles. The magazines are now offered in smoke, brown and black translucent configurations as well as opaque black, foliage green, olive drab and flat dark earth color.
This author has used these magazines for many years right from the first experimental ones to the current AWM magazines. In all the years they had been used, and in many different weapon systems, there have been no malfunctions of any sort and no breakages. They have been used significantly on full automatic fire as well. More recently the magazines were tested successfully with 300 Blackout ammunition. This is a high tier magazine suitable for law enforcement and military use and at a good price. In speaking with Scott Vilardi at Lancer Systems, he gave a little tease that they are in the final phases of development on a new SR-25-type 7.62 magazine. Look forward to a test on that as soon as they are available for testing.
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